FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Hidden Lake Logan Pass Glacier National Park Montana

We founded what was then called Glacier Wilderness Guides in 1983 because no one else was providing ecologically sensitive backcountry guiding and interpretation in Glacier National Park. Back then, there were just three of us! Four years later we expanded to include Montana Raft Company, in order to provide rafting and fishing on Glacier’s Wild and Scenic rivers. Today, we offer rafting, hiking, fishing, biking, equipment rentals, and lodging as Glacier Guides and Montana Raft.

Rafting led us into fishing, and then we obtained a permit to guide on the Smith River, too. In 2010 we built Glacier Guides Lodge to give our guests an eco-friendly lodging option in West Glacier. Glacier Guides Guest House came along a few years later. Our newest move is guiding bike and e-bike tours of Glacier when the roads are closed to vehicle traffic. We thrive on change!

Today, with more than ninety guides and support workers on staff, we provide Glacier’s most comprehensive, ecologically sensitive, rafting, hiking, fishing, and biking services. We also excel at having a great time together, and sharing that with others.

At Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, we owe our success to our amazing staff. We’re not just a company, we’re friends. Many of our guides are students or teachers in the off-season, balancing their schedules with the summer season here in West Glacier. Others ski, hike, fish, raft or bike professionally in other parts of the country.  All are dedicated outdoors people who hone their skills constantly, sharing hard won insights with our guests and teaching them how to #ProtectGlacier. You can meet our guides here.

We love what we do, and we do it for you. Experience Glacier National Park’s rivers, roads, and trails with us.

Family owned and operated by Denny Gignoux, Whitefish, and Mark O’Keefe, Helena.

Why choose Glacier Guides and Montana Raft? Sine 1983, we put your safety and the environment first. And then, we prioritize having ALL of the fun! With more than 90 guides and support people on our staff, we provide the area’s most comprehensive and professional rafting, hiking, backpacking, fishing, biking, equipment rental, and lodging services. We live here because we love it, and we are proud to show off our home. Spend your time enjoying the Glacier National Park, and let us handle the details.

Glacier Guides and Montana Raft’s mission is to provide exceptional active travel vacations and experiences in and around Glacier National Park, while preserving and protecting Glacier’s unique ecosystem using the best available, ecologically-sound practices.

Our trips meet at our office in West Glacier, with a few exceptions. If you are staying in West Glacier, we are happy to pick you up free of charge — advanced notice is required.

Where Is Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Located?

Address: 11970 Highway 2 East, West Glacier, MT 59936. Click here for directions!

Airports: Glacier Park International (GPI) in Kalispell, Montana, is the closest airport. Approximately 45 minutes from West Glacier. Other options (3-5 hours) are Missoula (MT), Great Falls (MT), Spokane (WA), or Calgary (Alberta, Canada).

Shuttle Services: There are several shuttles from the airport in Kalispell to West Glacier. They vary in price and require advanced reservations. A free shuttle inside Glacier National Park runs along the Going-to-the-Sun road from July-early September. There is also a shuttle from Whitefish to Apgar that runs the same dates as the free shuttle in the park.

Train: Amtrak has a stop in West Glacier, and the train station is a mile and a half from our office and just down the hill from our lodge.  It also has stops in East Glacier and Whitefish.

By Car:  You may park your vehicle in our shaded parking lot while going on any of our trips. We’ll keep your keys secure while you’re gone, too.

We are located in a safe neighborhood (the bears haven’t broken into the cars in years!), so if you arrive by car, luggage may safely be stored in your locked vehicle. Alternatively, we do have a storage area available for extra gear that you won’t be needing on your trip.

Please call our office at 406-387-5555 to make a reservation. Our friendly office staff will answer all your questions and offer advice as you make your reservation. You may also make your reservation right from our web site. We accept all major credit cards.

The outdoor industry standard is 15%.

We have several different policies, depending on the type of trip that you are going on. See our full Cancellation Policy.

It depends on the snowpack. Each spring, the Going to the Sun Road must be plowed, typically from Lake McDonald Lodge, over Logan Pass, and down to St. Mary. This enormous task is often, but not always, completed around the 3rd week of June. In heavy snowpack years, the opening can be delayed into July. In modern times, the latest the Going to the Sun Road has ever opened was July 13, 2011! You can keep up with current conditions in the park here.

The one you take.

There are 734 miles of trails in Glacier National Park, and we don’t have a bad word to say about any of them.

FAQ: Hiking

FAQ: Rafting

Please refer to our detailed packing lists for overnight trips and day trips to properly prepare.

Reasonably fit. Daily mileage averages six to eight miles per day, but can be much shorter or much longer. A short day is 3.5 miles and a long day is 12 miles. The weight of an average pack is 35 to 40 pounds. If you are worried about the weight or have youngsters who need help, ask about our Porter Service. The highest elevation you can expect to attain is about 8,000 feet with the valley floors at about 4,000-5,000 feet.

All food, cooking gear, water filter and first aid supplies necessary for your trip will be provided. We have tents, sleeping bags, thermarests and backpacks available for rent. Click here for day packing lists and here for overnight packing lists.

There are bears (black and grizzlies) in Glacier and we occasionally see them, but we’ve never had a problem in our 35+ years in business. Guides carry pepper spray just in case and go through NPS Bear Management training.

All of our backpacking trips visit remote parts of the Park, but for several reasons we cannot guarantee a particular hike ahead of time. We must take into account the interest and abilities of our guests, snow conditions, trail crew work, trail closures and availability of backcountry camping sites. We ask guests when making a reservation about special interests and abilities and always try to find an appropriate itinerary based on their requests.

We do not recommend bringing too much alcohol on our trips (weight is the main factor). You are certainly allowed to bring it though. Many people like bringing a celebratory beer for the trailhead at the end of the trip. Let us know if you want to do this, and we can arrange for it to be put in your shuttle vehicle.

We provide professional guides, high quality Hyside rafts, Coast Guard approved lifejackets, waterproof bags, splash gear and wetsuits (we are the only local rafting company that does not charge extra for wetsuits), and transportation to and from the river.

Please refer to our packing list for overnight trips and day trips to properly prepare.

Full day: 14 river miles (5-6 hrs)
Half day: 8 river miles (2hrs-June, 2-1/2 hrs-July, 3 hrs-Aug)

Sport trip: up to 9 people

Thrillseeker trip: 4-6 people

Classic trip: up to 14 people

This depends on the time of year and what the actual river level is that day. Our rivers are free flowing and not dam controlled so it varies throughout the season. The following is a general rule of thumb, but you’ll always want to call the office and double check river levels.

Early season/high water (until mid June) – Children 10 and older.
Mid season/moderate flows (late June to early July) – Children 8 and older.
Remaining season/moderate to low flows (Mid July through Aug) – Children 5 and older.

We generally require a minimum weight of 50 pounds for our whitewater trips. There is no maximum weight, but each guest must be able to buckle a 58″ chest life jacket.

Children 3 and older are generally welcome on the Scenic Float, but again, call the office to double check river levels. Safety always comes first!

406-387-5555 or info@glacierguides.com

We don’t recommend taking cameras unless they are waterproof. There is a company that take pictures of all rafts going through the whitewater section from mid-June to Labor Day. They are available for you to purchase at our office after the trip.

Safety is always the #1 priority. Guides undergo yearly training in river rescue techniques, first aid, and more. Many guides return year after year. If conditions call for wetsuits and river shoes, or if you would prefer to wear splash gear, it is always available at no extra cost. Helmets are mandatory on whitewater trips. Certain risks are inherent in running the river and you will be required to read and sign our acknowledgement of risk prior to any trip.

We do not allow alcohol in any of our boats. You are allowed bring your own beverages to our campus to consume after your trip or during dinner.

We offer group discounts for groups of 10 or more. Please call us for more information. 406-387-5555

FAQ: Fishing

FAQ: Biking

We run our daily fly fishing trips on either the Middle Fork or North Fork of the Flathead River. Together, these rivers create the western boundary of Glacier National Park and are nationally designated Wild And Scenic. In addition, we have one launch per year on the Smith River in central Montana. This is a strictly regulated river with few launches, great fishing, and beautiful scenery. We spend five days floating, fishing, and camping along the Smith.

Necessary camping and fishing equipment (flies too) are included with all trips.

These federally protected, Wild and Scenic waters support native Westslope Cutthroat, along with Rainbow and Brook trout. We practice catch and release fishing.

No, because all of our fly fishing trips are run in stable and maneuverable drift boats. Occasionally we fish from inflatable rafts.

We can’t guarantee it, but we have caught trout almost every trip. We can guarantee that you’ll be amazed at the stunning beauty of the Wild and Scenic rivers we fish on, whether or not they’re biting!

Yes, you do need a Montana fishing license if you are on a fly fishing trip with us. Get your Montana fishing license here:

Montana FWP Online Licensing System

It is best to have a license in hand before you meet your guide at our office. We recommend printing one online. If that isn’t convenient, most fly shops and sporting goods stores in Montana sell them.

If you are backpacking with us inside Glacier National Park you do not need a Montana fishing license. Instead, you need a free copy of the NPS Fishing Regulations with you.

Keep in mind that around here, we joke that we have two seasons, winter and road construction.  When roads are closed or are in rough shape for guided biking, we may reroute our trip to another area of Glacier National Park.  This may be an area which is open to vehicle traffic, such as the Camas Road. Alternatively, it may involve involve a van shuttle to a road on Glacier’s stunning east side, which will be several hours long. We’ll always keep you aware of your options.

Starting June 15, first 8 miles of the Going to the Sun Road are restricted to bicycles between 11am and 4pm, i.e. from Apgar to Sprague. As summer unfolds and the Going to the Sun Road opens fully to vehicle traffic, other restrictions go into effect. From June 15th until Labor Day, east-bound/uphill bike traffic is prohibited from Logan Creek to Logan Pass between 11am and 4pm. Check the park’s biking page for the latest rules and regulations here.

If you’re on a guided biking tour with us, your guide will have bear spray. If you’re not with us, we recommend carrying a can in one of the water bottle carriers on your bike — it’s always best practice to keep it handy!

You should also bring water, food, and layers — just like you would if you were hiking. Click here for our Glacier National Park Day Trips Packing List – Biking. And speaking of hiking, there will likely be hikers on the road – share the road, please.

Sorry, no. During the spring, pets are not permitted past the road closure gates, which are typically at Lake McDonald Lodge or Avalanche on the West Side, and at Rising Sun on the east.

No, they are not allowed past the closed gates — typically at Lake McDonald, Avalanche, and Rising Sun — on the Going to the Sun Road. Read more here.

Still have questions?

We’d love to answer them for you.

Call us at 406-387-5555 or email info@glacierguides.com